Over the course of this series I have taken a mostly micro view of why 1500 should be played. What about a more macro view of1500? Much of this may seem anecdotal, but if you have been following the current meta game in the U.S. you should understand where I am coming from. Let us start with the obvious: Mech. It is the banner word of 5th edition and it is used to describe almost every “competitive” army. It though was not until the release of the latest IG codex that the term Mech really stuck. Still players wrestle with what it means. Does Mech mean max out heavy support? Does it mean transports? Does it mean just anything with a AV? Mech has been used every which way to judge any list.
On the sociological level and emotional level it has become the fault line and barometer for how we judge players. More precisely how the Internet judges players. If you look closely the battlefields between what is a “good” or “bad” list is over the level of mech a particular list has. Underneath everything it is why players discount Necrons. It is why many people cannot grasp the best way to play the new Tyranids. Why people think Orks suck. Mech has consumed us and it doesn’t help that GW has released that last four out of the last five armies that feature it. Mech is taking on a religiosity unlike anything I have seen before. Religious furor aside here are two things that explain Mech’s ascension and it is just not about what wins.
The first one is speed of play. Mech allows you to play the game at a decidedly faster pace. No longer are you taking that extra time to bring out squads with vehicles instead it is just the vehicle. Contrast with a horde army where you have to worry about placement and the time it takes to put 100 models down. Not to mention worrying about blast weapons and templates. This mental block cannot go understated. Players like to think they are taking Mech because it is a winner, but the truth might just be that we find it a lot easier to play. It goes even further when you apply that to armies that would rather blow you off the board in shooting than engage you in assault. Assaulting is the most complicated part of the game and the hardest to explain. So Mech ends up equating to simpler and simpler army builds, as is the case with many “competitive” IG builds. Which means even faster game play. Taking that all into consideration it is no wonder that in tournaments (time limits) Mech is king.
The other equation is point levels. Namely 2000 and 2500 point levels. You combine this with speed of play and you are putting great pressure on players to confirm to the Mech Orthodoxy. I know some players can play at high point values and still get done quickly. That is inconsequential because that is not the perception or reality of most players. In 2000 or 2500 point game (especially in tournaments) time is always looming over you. Not to mention the social stigma. How many times have you heard horror stories of people playing that “slow” horde army. With enough social pressure who wants to be that guy? What about all the other forces not related to peer pressure? Painting a Horde army vs. Mech army. Transporting a Horde army vs. Mech Army. If my local store is playing at the 2000-2500 range how many Ork Boyz or Gaunts is that again?
How does this relate to 1500?
At 1500 not only do you get a faster game you make more army builds viable. A 1500 point horde is much less daunting than a 2000 point horde. A 175 model count at 2000 suddenly becomes a 125 at 1500. That is 50 less models to paint 50 less models to transport. It also means that you can try hybrid lists that you were weary of before. What it really gets down to is 1500 = more variety. Sounds counter intuitive? When you scale up an army past 1500 rarely are you “changing” your list, you’re just making what you already have more effective. You can change just one unit in a 1500 point list and you totally change how that army plays. It is funny, even with all the points people have access to in larger games, how often the lists show such little variety. Playing at this small scale also lets you explorer those more complicated aspects of the game like Assault in a more manageable way– making 1500 a perfect teaching tool.
If you have been following this series much of this might sound familiar, but understanding on a larger scale how the community affects the way we play Warhammer 40k is important. If you missed the past posts in this series check it out here…
Next in this series we finally see just how fluid a 1500 game is compared to a larger point one. With pictures!